For my birthday this year, we planned the perfect weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s how we spent it: eating, drinking and taking in the sights of this stunning mountain town.
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As I get older, I’m realizing more and more that it’s experiences that I treasure, not things. Last month, Chris and I drove up to Asheville to celebrate my birthday, and it was the loveliest way to celebrate. It was an absolutely perfect weekend trip to Asheville.
We’ve both been to Asheville a number of times, but never together, which was all the more fun. He hadn’t been since college, and the last few times I was there were for a quick road trip lunch stop, a yoga workshop and a food blogger conference.
I would like to credit my friend Chrissie for her help in picking a lot of the spots we hit this time. She and her husband spent their honeymoon in Asheville, and they had a ton of advice for us.
Both nights we stayed at Airbnbs in West Asheville. The first was an entire studio apartment, the other was a room in someone’s house. We wanted to try both kinds of experiences, and this was a good chance to do that. My thoughts on this could be a whole other post!
West Asheville is super close to downtown Asheville, it was easy to get around by foot, car and Uber.
Favorite thing? Cheerwine Bourbon Slushies. (Coming soon to a blog near you — we’ve already made them six times!)
Least favorite thing? Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue with vinegar sauce. This made no sense to me as we were in the western part of the state!
We ate a late dinner, and some of the spots we wanted to hit, like the Funkatorium (a sour beer haven), were closed by the time we finished. (To be fair, it was Thursday night.)
Instead, we grabbed beers at Hi-Wire Brewing. Chris has been raving about their Strongman coffee milk stout ever since we got back.
The next morning, we decided to stick around West Asheville, since neither of us had spent much time there.
We braved the cold and waited for 30 minutes for a Friday brunch at Sunny Point Cafe, at the recommendation of, like, everyone I know. Such a good decision! The huevos rancheros was 1,000% unmatched. So good.
We walked off our breakfast at several of the nearby shops. I really loved these four spots:
- Harvest Records — a sunny record shop for any music lover
- Flora — a magical, lively shop filled with flowers and plants
- The Drygoods Shop — a gorgeous boutique offering only handmade, artisan goods
- Whist — a whimsical gift shop containing everything a graphic designer could ever want.
After all that walking, we needed coffee and a snack. We ventured to Vortex Donuts, which is a total delight.
I’ve never known a place to do both yeast doughnuts and cake donuts, but I’m a fan. They had a beer-glazed donut that helped inspire the Baked Chocolate Guinness Donuts with Irish Coffee Glaze I made recently.
We headed further into downtown Asheville and checked out Horse & Hero, which is one of my favorite places to visit in Asheville.
It’s a shop filled with work from local artists and designers, and I try to stop by every time I’m in town. This is an amazing spot for authentic, artsy souvenirs. The owner Justin is a great dude and I always enjoy chatting with him.
Next we met up with my friend Jessie and her partner at High Five Coffee. We haven’t caught up in a while, and it was fantastic to see them both! They raved to us about their cubano coffees — apparently very unlike the ones in Miami, but in a delicious way.
For dinner, we decided to eat our way through Asheville and just get drinks and appetizers or small plates at every stop. This is a great way to explore a lot of places within walking distance!
First, we grabbed ciders and samosas at Chai Pani. Even if you’ve never had Indian street food before, you could find something to try here.
Next, we split tacos at White Duck Taco Shop, a place I’ve always heard good things about. They have a creative taco menu, with things like Buffalo Chicken Tacos and Banh Mi Tofu. (Amazing.)
Curate was our last food stop for the night. We were starting to get full, so we just enjoyed a few small plates: my favorite dish there, the pan con tomate, a cheese plate and some local beers from Highland Brewing (another must-do for another visit).
We skipped sweet dessert since we’d already had doughnuts earlier, and instead grabbed drinks at Nightbell. I had a Persephone’s Sin, a vodka cocktail with flavors of orange, pomegranate, lemon and amaro montenegro, plus a singed rosemary sprig for garnish. Totally gorgeous!
For breakfast the next day, our Airbnb host recommended we try the doughnuts at Hole in West Asheville. I was reluctant to have donuts again, but I was so glad we did.
At Hole, they make them to-order, and in the most unique flavors. Our favorites were the coffee-rubbed and the spicy ginger glazed.
After gorging ourselves on hot doughnuts, we headed into downtown for one more walk before driving home. It was starting to get COLD.
I always love walking through the Grove Arcade, a historic landmark that’s filled with fun shops. There’s a nice chocolate shop, a knitting shop and a place where you can create your own bath products. Definitely worth a perusal on any trip!
We made a quick visit to French Broad Chocolate Lounge for a to-go latte and some treats to take home. One of my musts whenever I’m in Asheville!
By the time we got back to our car, our vision was nearly obstructed by all the fast falling snow. I’ve been saying I thought we would have one more snow this winter! We got home safely, as the snowflakes subsided once we made it down the mountain.
Our final stop before hopping on the highway: Downtown Books and News. This indie bookstore on Lexington has tons of magazines and journals, plus a wide selection of used books. I always stop here when I’m in Asheville, too!
And it did snow more! By the next morning, my birthday, we had one or two inches of white stuff covering the ground at our place in Belmont.
I like to think it was the perfect ending to the perfect weekend trip to Asheville. // susannah